Our TV Is Not The Problem With Our Culture

Here Comes Honey Boo Boo premiered this week and 2.2 million people watched it. That’s a lot of people! Even without the numbers, this is the type of reality show that brings up the old sawhorse argument about what this means for AMERICA and our CHILDREN and our FUTURE and our CULTURE. And so E! asks if it’s a guilty pleasure or “the worst thing ever.” People asks if this is America’s new sweetheart or “its worst nightmare.” And so on and so forth. New low! Giving Americans a bad name! WE ARE ALL GUNNA DIE! Here’s the thing, though: TV is not our culture’s problem. I just feel like, you know, I totally get it. Yes, this show, which I have not watched, is an exploitative freak show aimed at the lowest common denominator of our cultural impulses, and the reality TV trend has been moving in ever more sensationalistic and egregious self-reflexive cycles for years now. Then again, you also have Breaking Bad, and Portlandia, and Mad Men, and Justified. For every step we take towards terrible television we take a counter-step towards great television. But that’s not even what I’m talking about! What I think it is important to remember is that we live in a world with REAL PROBLEMS: poverty, racism, homophobia, misogyny, human rights violations, war, religious persecution, starvation, biological warfare, etc. And here’s something else: IT’S NEVER BEEN BETTER THAN IT IS RIGHT NOW. Never. Not ever in the whole history of it. Oh, there are things that we should really start putting some thought into. But you don’t have to go that far back to remember a time when it was totally legal to just THROW A BLACK PERSON INTO THE OCEAN IF YOU WANTED TO. That’s an example I made up that may or not actually be offensively counter-productive now that I think about it, but things have always been terrible is my point. There was a study I read about the other day that I can’t find now, but if someone finds it please link in the comments, but it was about a survey done in, like, the 1800s that found that most Americans couldn’t locate Europe on a map, or whatever, but basically the same way we make fun of dumb dumbs on Jay Leno now has always been the case. Nobody knows nothing and they never have. Pants used to be made out of asbestos. Cigarettes used to be medicine. Women are allowed to vote and drive cars NOW but they weren’t always! And we still live in a world where not everyone is allowed to marry the person they love, so who gives a shit about a TV show? You see what I mean? We’re not in danger from Honey Boo Boo Child. It doesn’t matter. This is not the danger, the danger is the danger.